New production to revive children’s theater in Northwest Indiana after 50 years | community

GARY – The Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church Theater Facility and the Gate Theater in Chang Mai, Thailand, are collaborating to bring children’s theater back to Northwest Indiana after it has been absent for the past 50 years.

The two companies plan to present a production of “Goldilocks on Trial” for elementary school children throughout the Chicago area and south Chicago in the spring semester of 2023.

“The church will be celebrating 100 years in Gary’s parish next year. We’re trying to jump in at the deep end and bring back some things that Gary was missing,” said Evangelist Janice Culver, director of JMBC Drama Ministry.

“We want to bring joy back to these children; You’ve been through so much.”

Culver, a Gary resident, said that she and director Stephan Turner are looking for 20 adult actors in Northwest Indiana to take part in the play. She said the ensemble must be available for rehearsals at least three days a week in the spring.

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Stephan Turner, who has lived in Thailand for almost 18 years, is the founder and director of The Gate Theatre, which is based in Indiana but in Chang Mai. The Gate is Northern Thailand’s first English language theater company.

Turner, a native of Gary, visits the US every few years. After meeting Culver during his last visit in June, the pair decided to work together on a joint venture to direct Goldilocks on Trial, as Turner had previously directed in Chang Mai.

“It is important to bring art back where it is missing. Gary is missing a lot of things, including art,” Turner said. “It hurts me to see how things have turned out for my city, I want to contribute to the future.”

Children’s theater was popular at Indiana University Northwest in the early 1970s among local directors like Alger Boswell and Tom Mazur, Culver said. Turner was introduced to the technical aspects of theater at IUN in the mid-1970s when Culver starred in the play Aladdin’s Lamp.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do until I met Technical Director Tom Mazur. He helped me see that I could be a student at the university and work with the stage crew as a technician for extra money,” Turner said. “It really interested me. Those fundamental skills I learned then got me where I am today.”

The two companies are in negotiations with the Glen Theater in Gary and State Assemblyman Vernon Smith to stage the play for two weeks in April 2023 with a maximum of two performances per day. Culver also hopes there will be matinees on both Saturdays and Sundays for local families to watch.

Latrice Williams, CEO of HOME Mentoring & Tutoring, formulates pamphlets that local primary school leaders will receive in late fall, informing them of the play’s core standards and educational benefits.

Culver said that this play will not only be exciting for the children, but will also teach them understanding, fluency, speaking and listening skills.

Culver said she was inspired by theater as a child, so she hopes Goldilocks on Trial can do the same for other kids. During her acting career, she appeared in the feature films The UnMiracle and Three Corners of Deception, as well as the short films Dear Mama and Grace on the Line.

Anyone with questions about participating in the game or being a sponsor should email Janice Culver at [email protected] or call 219-713-9268.

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